Bonfires and bonfire nuisance

There are no specific laws which prohibit bonfires or limit the times that someone can have a bonfire. However, if the smoke (or ash etc.) affects your property and stops you doing something, for example gardening or hanging out washing, then we may be able to help.

If you are a private householder, please contact Environmental Health on 01438 242908 for advice.

We may ask you to keep a record of occurrences to enable us to decide whether we should investigate further.

Precautions to take if you are having a bonfire

  • Inform your neighbours
  • Never burn rubber, synthetic material or other chemicals as these can produce toxic and damaging fumes.
  • Site the bonfire carefully, ensuring that it is as far as possible from any fences or buildings, and that the wind direction will not blow smoke into neighbouring premises.
  • Never light a bonfire when neighbours have washing drying.
  • Ensure the bonfire is supervised at all times and that it is properly extinguished.
  • At no time should the smoke blow across a highway (road or footpath).  This is an offence under the Highways Act.

Alternatives to burning

There is no need to burn waste because:

  • General household waste can be deposited in either your bin or your recycling receptacles.  Please see the Recycling section for more information.
  • Larger items (eg old beds, wardrobes, fridges etc.) can be collected by the Council for a small charge.  You can arrange a bulky item collection by calling 01438 218888.
  • Domestic rubbish or garden waste can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre on Caxton Way.
  • A wide variety of materials can be recycled. Please see the Recycling section for more information.

Legal action against bonfires

Action can be taken under The Environmental Protection Act 1990 if they cause a nuisance to others.  An owner, occupier or person responsible for the nuisance can be served with a smoke abatement notice preventing further nuisance. Contravention of a notice is an offence.

Individuals can take their own legal action under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  For this to succeed you will have to prove your case in Court and may wish to instruct a Solicitor.

If the smoke from a bonfire is blowing across a highway, the Police can take action under the Highways Act.

The Clean Air Act 1993 make emissions of dark or black smoke from the burning of trade waste an offence for which the Council can take legal proceedings.

Bonfire policy

The bonfire policy has been set up mindful of the need to balance people’s enjoyment with the requirement to adhere to health and safety and also the need to minimise costs of overseeing formal bonfires. The only Stevenage Borough Council property where fire is allowed under the policy is Shephall Green due to its Village Green status. The policy details how residents can apply to have a bonfire on Shephall Green.



Bonfire Policy

Useful links

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Clean Air Act 1993

Stevenage Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Contact details

Environmental Health
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House

01438 242908 / 242916